My brothers and sisters flung eastward and westward

Has come and gone before I knew.

 

Bai Juyi
TO MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS ADRIFT
IN TROUBLED TIMES THIS POEM OF THE MOON
Since the disorders in Henan and the famine in Guannei, my brothers and sisters have been scattered. Looking at the moon, I express my thoughts in this poem, which I send to my eldest brother at Fuliang, my seventh brother at Yuqian, My fifteen brother at Wujiang and my younger brothers and sisters at Fuli and Xiagui.
My heritage lost through disorder and famine,
My brothers and sisters flung eastward and westward,
My fields and gardens wrecked by the war,
My own flesh and blood become scum of the street,
I moan to my shadow like a lone-wandering wildgoose,
I am torn from my root like a water-plant in autumn:
I gaze at the moon, and my tears run down
For hearts, in five places, all sick with one wish.


Li Shangyin
THE INLAID HARP
I wonder why my inlaid harp has fifty strings,
Each with its flower-like fret an interval of youth.
…The sage Chuangzi is day-dreaming, bewitched by butterflies,
The spring-heart of Emperor Wang is crying in a cuckoo,
Mermen weep their pearly tears down a moon-green sea,
Blue fields are breathing their jade to the sun….
And a moment that ought to have lasted for ever
Has come and gone before I knew.


Li Shangyin
TO ONE UNNAMED
The stars of last night and the wind of last night
Are west of the Painted Chamber and east of Cinnamon Hall.
…Though I have for my body no wings like those of the bright- coloured phoenix,
Yet I feel the harmonious heart-beat of the Sacred Unicorn.
Across the spring-wine, while it warms me, I prompt you how to bet
Where, group by group, we are throwing dice in the light of a crimson lamp;
Till the rolling of a drum, alas, calls me to my duties
And I mount my horse and ride away, like a water-plant cut adrift.


Li Shangyin
THE PALACE OF THE SUI EMPEROR
His Palace of Purple Spring has been taken by mist and cloud,
As he would have taken all Yangzhou to be his private domain
But for the seal of imperial jade being seized by the first Tang Emperor,
He would have bounded with his silken sails the limits of the world.
Fire-flies are gone now, have left the weathered grasses,
But still among the weeping-willows crows perch at twilight.
…If he meets, there underground, the Later Chen Emperor,
Do you think that they will mention a Song of Courtyard Flowers?


Li Shangyin
TO ONE UNNAMED I
You said you would come, but you did not, and you left me with no other trace
Than the moonlight on your tower at the fifth-watch bell.
I cry for you forever gone, I cannot waken yet,
I try to read your hurried note, I find the ink too pale.
…Blue burns your candle in its kingfisher-feather lantern
And a sweet breath steals from your hibiscus-broidered curtain.
But far beyond my reach is the Enchanted Mountain,
And you are on the other side, ten thousand peaks away.

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